“Mr. Nobody” by Catherine Steadman begins with an unusual first person narrative that leaves readers wondering what happened before and what will happen next. Steadman structures the book in a unique manner, and identifies the time and the main character of each chapter.
In Chapter one, (day one) readers meet “The Man.” Descriptions in the present tense bring realism to the man and express his confusion, his bewilderment, and his vulnerability. The next chapter jumps to day six, and continues in a first person narrative by Dr. Emma Lewis. She talks to herself and speaks to reader as if chatting with close friends. She relates experiences, describes incidents, demonstrates professionalism, and projects trust and confidence. Steadman alternates chapters between the man and the doctor and skillfully presents the events from both sides separately as they eventually merge. There is a tantalizing end to each chapter that entices readers to continue on to the next chapter with the alternating point of view and forms a bridge to bring readers back to this scenario in the future chapter. Then the man speaks…
The story advances with detailed information about Dr. Lewis’s search for answers for “the man,” now called Matthew. Dr. Lewis is determined to identify the problem, either physical or psychological; there are many questions, but few answers. Details about “the man” emerge slowly and deliberately within the context of the rest of the story, but information about “the man” is sensitive, perhaps even covert, and more than one secret is involved. As Dr. Lewis gets closer and closer to finding answers, the action becomes frantic, the situation grows dangerous, and the solutions are shocking. I will not give away the unanticipated end.
I received a review copy of “Mr. Nobody” from Catherine Steadman, Random House Publishing Group, and Ballantine. I was glued to the pages as I read, and absolutely did not anticipate the dramatic conclusion.